The Chief Executive of the Health Department has confirmed in evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee that the Rann Government’s ‘Future ICT’ process would cost the Health Department $51.4 million over five years.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today that Dr Tony Sherbon confirmed he agreed with his senior ICT adviser’s estimate of $51.4 million and that there had been ‘visceral disagreement’ between Treasury and Health officers over the issue.
When asked about the $51.4 million cost, Dr Sherbon said:
“No; there is no quibble that that is the number we are required to achieve, and that was the intent of my answer. Further to that answer, I can confirm there was disagreement between Treasury and Health officials as to, first, who should wear that cost and, secondly, how that number was derived, but there is no quibble as to the final savings target.”
“It needs to be remembered that Mr Foley is actually cutting the Health budget by $20 million over four years because of ‘supposed savings’ from the ‘Future ICT’ process,” Mr Lucas said.
“It is now clear Mr Foley’s claim at the 2006 election and in last year’s budget that ‘Future ICT’ would save $30 million every year has been exposed as complete nonsense.
Dr Sherbon went on to indicate the Health Department was now going to have to charge hospitals and others a fee for computers and technology services that they currently receive for nothing.
Mr Lucas said this now means hospitals will have to find the extra money by cutting spending in some other areas.
In other evidence, Dr Sherbon confirmed:
• Health had to cut at least $67 million from this year’s budget spending – $23 million announced in budget, $12 million in Future ICT and $32.4 million because of overspending last year; and,
• This $67 million cut could be as high as $100 million because the Treasurer has not yet decided if Health would have to repay last year’s overspending of $32.4 million.